LGE: 11% reduction in voter turnout from 2016 to 2018 disturbing – GECOM Chair

GECOM Chair James Patterson
GECOM Chair James Patterson

With the official results released by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for Local Government Elections showing voting turnout in 2018 decreasing by 11 per cent when compared to 2016, Chairman of the body has dubbed the low turnout disturbing.

The data shows that out of 572,531 persons registered to vote, only 208,534 actually went out to vote. This is a turnout of 36 per cent. When LGE were last held in 2016, the turnout was 47 per cent.

GECOM Chairman, Justice (retired) James Patterson, posited that the lower than expected turnout is the result of voter apathy, but he was still hopeful that things would improve.

“I would like to note the apparent apathy of the electorate. I find it very disturbing – and, no doubt, questions will be asked of GECOM, and you will get the appropriate response. But (speaking for) myself, I can say that the apparent apostasy of the electorate is not the norm,” he declared.

“I suppose we will get accustomed to Local Government Elections with the passage of time… I trust and believe that this apathy will end with the last elections; and that, as citizens, we will begin to exercise our franchise in future elections to come,” he said.

Meanwhile, the GECOM Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, shifted blame from GECOM by noting that the Communities Ministry shares responsibility for voter education.

Besides the Ministry, Lowenfield said, the political parties and candidates had a role to play in making sure that the voters were properly educated on the elections.

GECOM’s results show that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has turned in significant improvements over its 2016 performance.

According to statistics released, the PPP made major gains in several Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and Municipalities. For instance, the party won 5 out of 10 towns. These are Mabaruma, Anna Regina, Rose Hall, Corriverton and Lethem.

In Georgetown, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) secured a definitive victory. APNU also had success in municipalities like Mahdia, where they secured a total of five seats to the PPP’s one.

The PPP won cleanly in Port Kaituma, picking up a total of seven seats versus four for APNU and one from the Alliance For Change (AFC). In Annandale, there were five constituencies in which there were no contests. PPP also won Good Hope with 8 seats in the PR component, and Wakenaam.

An area that has excited much discussion over the past few days is the Buxton/Foulis Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC). At a recent press conference, PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo revealed that his party won this area for the first time ever.

APNU subsequently rebutted this in a statement that focused on the Buxton/Friendship constituencies. However, the data shows that the PPP won five seats in the Proportional Representation, compared to four seats for APNU.

In First Past the Post (FPTP) system, PPP candidates Jackdeep Singh (Bladen Hall/Strathspey), Shameer Ahmad (Vigilance North), Neipaul Purai (Vigilance South), Bhoowal Chaitu (Enterprise) and Chandrawattie Singh (Paradise) won seats on the 18-member council.

Only four APNU candidates: Cheryl McPherson (Bacherlor’s Adventure), Alison Telford (Enterprise), William Oswald (Friendship) and Bairdharris Jewel (Buxton) gained seats on the council by FPTP. This means that the PPP will have 10 members on the council compared to APNU’s eight councillors. The AFC did not gain any seats.

Another controversial area was Bloomfield/Whim, the birthplace of Alliance for Change executive, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. Controversy erupted when PPP supporters claimed they were tricked into signing an AFC backers’ list. After a Police investigation and the filing of a court case, the names were mysteriously removed.

The PPP may have lost the court case, but it won a resounding victory in the area at LGE. Data shows the PPP sweeping the area, attaining 13 seats on the NDC versus one seat attained through the PR system by the AFC.

In Mon Repos/La Reconnaissance, all but two of the nine constituencies were a no- contest. The council will be one dominated by the PPP, as APNU managed to get only one seat through the PR system.



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